Back to School – a lesson for Mom

As we left the house for school this morning, the all too familiar burning sensation crept up slowly in my eyes as I blinked steadily to wish the tears away and silently ridiculed myself for feeling all emotional.  After all, the last time I felt this overwhelmed was kindergarten and my son survived with little scarring up to now.

The “swag” outfit received careful consideration and I managed to undo the damage and a poor rating on the popularity index I got last year when introducing the wheelie bag.  That fiasco is behind us with this year’s purchase of the “sick” bag.  So far, I was getting a passing grade.  Granted, I was scolded for the note I tried to slip in the lunch bag and god forbid I use the Mabel’s labels on any items visible to the public!    Cut me some slack…I’m still learning about the “man code”!

Look, no wheels! A+ on the bag pick this year…phew!

Fast forward to grade 6.  We’ve hit the big time now with lockers, semesters and a timetable that left you sprinting from one end of the school to the next to make it to the next class on time.   How would he manage?  Would the older bully who targeted him in grade 3 bother him again?

Today, the school lesson was mine.  Upon reaching the playground, I was immediately “ditched” as the usual circle of friends ran to greet my son and excitedly talked about their summer and which teachers they would have.  Outside this circle it was complete chaos and for a super organized person, this sent my anxiety level up several notches as I wondered how we would ever figure out the correct line to stand in, the signs to follow and ultimately get to the home room class when the bell rang.   As I figured out a game plan (taking note of pure panic stricken faces on other parents faces too), I realized that my son got sucked into the crowd vortex and was impossible to find.  Then it hit me…he would figure it out.  He didn’t need me anymore.   I knew this day would come but seriously?!

The man code was indeed prevalent today.  Hanging with Mom and showing any signs of affection would be deemed as weak by all other important grade sixers.
For now I will respect the comfort zone required around school turf but will also take great pleasure in trips to the mall or around the block when a little hand, that was once so needy, will grip my fingers without a word.   I realize those days are numbered, more so than I first thought, so those moments will be cherished even more now.


Shooting for the Stars…

Earlier this week I was privileged to witness the intense will to succeed and was reminded of some important life lessons through the eyes of a child.    It all began last month when basketball tryouts were all abuzz in my household.   My son took practicing basketball to a whole new level by spending every waking moment on the driveway shooting hoops.    Before school, after school, after dinner and even up to bedtime in the moonlight, he could be found tirelessly shooting the ball into the net in hopes of improving his skills to overshadow his small stature.   The school team tryouts were held over a few days and when he learned some of the “taller” kids had conflicts in their schedule and were unable to try out he quietly rejoiced feeling that this might be the “edge” to increasing his odds of making the team.   I made a point of showing him that psychics didn’t matter – after all, did Zdeno Chára believe he’d be a successful hockey player towering at 6ft, 9?    Naturally that did little to ease his mind…what does a Mom know about sports anyhow?   Particularly one who couldn’t hit the blind side of a barn!  

The day came when the results would be posted – little sleep was had the night before and nails were very close to the cuticles.  My son exuded confidence (sort of) but the number of basketball hopefuls far outweighed the number of kids required to represent their school in regional tournaments.  I had completed my parental duty of managing his expectations early on.  “You did your best…there’s always next year….be a good sport and congratulate your friends if they make it”…etc. etc.    I felt nervous for him on “results” day and it weighed heavily on my mind until I got home from work.  The twinkle in his eye gave me instant relief the moment I walked through the door.    He was thrilled to make the team and couldn’t wait to wear the school jersey.

The regional tournaments were held earlier this week.  I saw bravery, speed and passion by all the kids and did my second parental duty…cheer so loud that it borders on obnoxious and annoying behaviour.  When trying to see my son, I looked for the jersey hanging closest to little ankles and was able to quickly identify him.    I am proud to report his school ranked 4th out of 12.  I’ll spare you the overall reports of unfairness and elbow blows on the court for another day.  They were pretty happy.

As a parent we all want our kids to shoot for the stars.  However reality also sets in and we often move to defense mode in protecting our kid’s feelings in the possible event of disappointment.   Life’s lesson learned this week – optimism is the foundation of courage and success.

Great quote for your kids:     “Never let the odds keep you from doing what you know in your heart you were meant to do.”  -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

The helmet debate…resolved

Prior to Christmas, I was second guessing a purchase I made on a whim for my son.  We were in Toys R Us when I noticed a box of skateboard helmets not yet on display with crazy designs and attachments.  I immediately thought of my son’s existing helmet which is always a struggle to convince him to wear – and a tad “babyish”.   I sported the mohawk style helmet for him in the store to gain his reaction and he exclaimed “cool”!   He then asked to dash off to his beloved Beyblade section and I stole the opportunity to run to the front desk for a price check on the helmet- purchased it – sprang to the car to hide it in the trunk and zipped back to the isle where he was wondering why I wasn’t behind him…and slightly breathless!

Later, as I explained how proud I was to have pulled off such a scheme, I heard mixed reviews on what this purchase would do to my son’s self-esteem and popularity index.  Both of which are integral to understanding the “man code”.  In other words…I may as well start socking away funds for future therapy sessions.

My gut told me different but I launched a poll and given the lack of quality items on my son’s Christmas wish list, I decided to keep the helmet, rather than return it to the store.

Christmas morning arrived and I anxiously awaited his reaction.  His face lit up as bright as the tree and a wash of relief came over me.  His exact words were “wooooah epic!”.  Not only was he genuine but when we went skating a few days later, he ASKED to wear his helmet.  This followed by a skiing trip where he made me stop the car as we were backing out of the driveway because he needed to run back in the house…waving his helmet proudly behind him.   Everywhere we went we were stopped by strangers; teenagers and even parents citing “I need that helmet where did you buy it?!”

The moral of the story is….Mom really does know best!

Making a deposit in the memory bank

The weekday morning ritual consists of my son waking up and coming into my room to snuggle up and watch the morning news before the alarm goes off.   It still surprises me that he has maintained this routine as long as he has.  I figure it won’t be long until he realizes that an extra 10 minutes of sleep is far better so I quietly and thankfully accept his visits as long as he does.

We have not wavered on our news update channel.   We have always tuned in to Breakfast Television (BT) to get a quick weather and news update.  In fact, when my son was a toddler the only way I could keep him still long enough for a diaper and clothing change to prepare for daycare was when BT’s personality “Frankie Flowers” was on.  He was mesmerized by Frank’s fun-loving and kid magnetic personality.  Little did Frank know that he was my hero in the morning or I rarely would’ve made it out the door in time.

Every year around this time there is advertising for BT’s annual Christmas Party.  Every year

Lead singer of Neverest "Spee" Spyros Chalkiotis

we vow to be there instead of watching the action from a cozy bed.  I recently read a quote that said “…each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children” and it got me motivated to stop talking about going and follow Nike’s advice…just do it!    We made a pact that we would endure the 4:00 a.m. wake-up call and head on down to the action this past Friday.

Needless to say when we arrived at the party, my son was in awe.  The cameras, bands, BT crew, games and Santa’s arrival made his eyes as big as saucers and he just kept muttering “this is soooo coool” over and over again.   We loved hearing Neverest rock it out as well as the cast from Hair musical.  As we were waiting in line to see Santa, his beloved “Frankie Flowers” (Frank Ferrigine) was standing to the side chatting with someone.  I think I frightened Frankie a little when I shouted at him but he came right over much to my son’s delight.  Well cool demeaner on the outside but I could tell from his expression he was ecstatic.   Frank took a moment to chat with him and take a photo.

Frankie Flowers (Frank Ferragine) and his biggest 10 year old fan, Damien

Thank you BT crew!   We were thrilled to be part of the day and make a wonderful deposit into our memory bank.

Saturday Night Fever

My fashion-conscience 10 year old never used to be that way.  Once upon a time I could co-ordinate him from head to toe without any rebuttals but these days he has actually formed….insert gasp here.…an opinion!    His outfit of choice needs no accessories.  By accessories I mean items that have no perceived value to little boys…socks and underwear to be precise   He has yet to have any “zipper incidents” but I’m sure underwear will be viewed as a necessity the second that happens.

My favourite outfit for my son is one that may embarrass him for years to come.  My Mom paid a visit to a local thrift store when he was a baby and brought over a dozen or so sleepers.  At the bottom of the pile was an orange and yellow get-up with a collar that John Travolta would have adorned in the 70’s.   It even had an elasticized waist and rust yellow feet.  My Mom said that although the pattern was a tad off she couldn’t resist the thick and soft terry material.   The sleepers were put away and the Grease Lightening sleeper found its way to the bottom of the pile which meant it was the emergency back-up when I couldn’t squeeze in precious time to get caught up with laundry.

I had to jet out one night and Dad took over bath time.  When I arrived home my son was sleeping soundly in his groovy Austin Powers pajamas.   I panicked at first thinking Dad had a rough night and blew threw the pile of sleepers but nope…he willingly dug through the stack and chose the sleeper that was an assault on the eyes but my Mom was right – my son was very soft and cuddly in these jammies.  From then on, every bath night that Dad was in charge my son was dressed in the sleeper that was then forever christened as….”the retro boogie dance party outfit”.    Check it out for yourself…babies in the 70’s can attest to this kickin’ style but not many kids born in the 21st century will be able to show photographic proof that the 70’s had some of the best fashion ever!

Sporting some Saturday night fever!

Thank you for the memories Grandma 🙂

Why Boys Need Moms

There is an age-old saying “like father, like son” that I believe needs a contemporary spin…or outright revision.  How about “like mother, like son”?  After all, the bond between mother and son actually determines how sons view themselves and their relationships with women as they mature into a man.  It is a fact that women evaluate suitable mates by the bond he has

Fun with Mom!

with his mother (talk fondly about your mom on dates boys!).   This is not to say there is a decreased importance on a relationship between a mom and her daughter but there is a connection between a mother and son that cannot be replicated with any other relationship in a boy’s life.

A strong mother-son relationship starts with consistency, patience, and emotional closeness, – all important traits for babies in general: whether boys or girls.    The first smile that a baby sees, the first voice that he recognizes, is his mother’s and as he grows older, his mother and her relationships with men — whether it is her husband, boyfriend, brother, father and friends are the most compelling demonstrations of how a man should interact, with future relationships with women.

The spontaneity in boy’s rash decisions can send some mom’s blood pressure to reach fainting levels.  It is the balance of Mom and Dad that are crucial to a son’s future in becoming a well rounded man and respectable citizen (otherwise known as “a good catch” to girls).   Here are some more reasons, best described in photos of the importance of having Mom in a boy’s life:

what would Mom do?




The Naked Truth

One clear distinction between raising a son and daughter has to be boy’s fascination with being naked.  Although I have never understood why going in the buff is the most amusing thing in my son’s day, he does get a chuckle out of me when exercising his “freedom” to go clothes- free.  He thoroughly enjoys getting ready for his shower and is never apprehensive to demonstrate his outrageous “nudey man” dance.  There is a whole lot of jumping around and hip action involved in the “nudey man” dance choreography.

When my daughter was an infant, nothing calmed her down instantly than a warm bubble bath.  She also enjoyed running from me during a diaper change to feel the freedom, if even for a moment.      My son on the other hand takes clothing changes to a whole new level.  Clothing is not only an imposition but I’m certain that if he could, he would not bother with getting dressed.

In speaking with other Moms who are raising both genders, they reaffirm that my experience is not an anomaly.   In fact, these same Moms have confessed that it is actually Dads who encourage and demonstrate this behaviour themselves in front of their sons.  Could it be having a boy gives them the ability to relive the freedom they felt as kids?

Last night while getting ready for his shower, my son began streaking throughout the house.  Dad acted all embarrassed and said “boy, cover your shame!” and my son responded “its not shame Dad, its the pride of mankind!”.     I suppose that statement not only sums up his strong self-confidence but reinstates why the world needs boys!

Take the time…

Take the time to hold his hand
and build creatures in the sand

Take the time to share his dreams
and wade in rocky streams

Take the time to hold him near
and tell him he has nothing to fear

Take the time every chance you can
because before you know it, your little boy is a man.

Best of Buds…

At our first home the street was alive with many young children – in particular it was blessed with little girls.  Evidently I was drinking different water than the rest of the Moms as my son

Cruisin' with my girls!

was one of the few boys born on the street.  As he got older he never turned down a play date with a willing friend, regardless of gender.  It was endearing to see how patient he was with the girls and often would “take turns” selecting the theme of the play date.  He would jump rope and play tea party with his close friend Maya before announcing it was his “turn” to pick an activity and would then show Maya how to speed down the driveway by lying on a skateboard (much to her Mother’s chagrin at watching her dress get caught and snagged in the wheels!) or bike off a make- shift ramp.   He also taught the girls how to roller blade in exchange for enduring a ride in the motorized (and very pink) Cadillac Escalade.  I recollect fondly of the experiences he gained with his best pals which he would never had received if he only had male playmates.

Me and the girls!

When we made the decision to move it was a difficult one but the real estate market was right and we were ready.  My son was heartbroken that he wouldn’t get to see his friends as often as he wanted but as we watched our new house being built we met families on our new street and learned it was bursting with boys.  It was nice to know that he would have the opportunity to play street hockey and rough house to his heart’s content.  We also recognized that he was coming to an age where he would soon succumb to the age-old realization most boys have…girls have “cooties”.

Me and my best pal Maya

Fast forward three years later and my son won’t hesitate to tell you that his best friend is Maya.  Although he enjoys his summer nights playing outside with his new friends until the
street lights come on, Maya and my son will boast that they have been “best friends from the day they were born”.   Their friendship has managed to stave off cooties and every exuberant reunion makes you think they won a lottery.  Indeed they have.  A special friendship that I’m certain will be fostered and grow for years to come.

Still learning about the “Man Code”…take my poll..

A few weeks ago I blogged about “Discovering the Man Code“.  Subsequent to this posting I learned much more about my frivolous buying decisions that were done haphazardly…by haphazardly, I mean purchases that were made without consulting any males about the impact this purchase would have on my son’s “manhood”.

My latest purchase was a new bike/skateboard helmet.  It didn’t make the Christmas list but it is an item that is needed as he has outgrown his old helmet.  I came across a funky helmet I thought most kids would think is pretty cool.  That was until my friend Sadra pointed out that I didn’t heed any advice he gave me.   This product not only breaks the man code but will likely embarrass my son.

As deflating as this advice was, I saw truth to this.  However, the helmet is still in the Toys “R” Us bag hiding in my trunk.   I sought some more advice and received 2 out of 3 thumbs up from my office colleagues.

So I need your help…please cast your vote using the poll below to let me know what you think.  The more “man” advice the better.  My son and his manhood will thank you!